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The judicial misconduct, legal misconduct, ethics violations and civil rights violations of the Rhode Island Supreme Court

"Appellate courts are right because they're final; they're not final because they're right."
........Often said by Chief Justice Weisberger according to The Prov. Journal 10-26-99

Complaint 1.  The RI Supreme Court allows the ignoring of crime and encourages law enforcement to fight Citizens trying to correct error or wrong doing by the Attorney General and local police departments.  See further proof given by Judge Melanie Thunberg.  Also see the Almeida case where absolute judicial immunity, which is not law but granted to judges by judges, is used to protect judges from being sued for criminal conduct.

Complaint 2.  The poor get thrown out on the street and all their belongings placed in storage out of their financial reach as a direct result of Judge Higgins willfully not following RI law even after it was pointed out to him.  The Commission On Judicial Tenure And Discipline see no wrong and the RI Supreme Court rubber stamp a fraudulant hearing and Judicial wrong doing by denying a Writ of Certiorari and all appeals. Judges do NOT have to follow the law. If they don't, YOU have to litigate to try and correct it and good luck with that!

Complaint 3.  It appears the RI Supreme Court allowed concern about being considered as "letting a big fish go" or "being in DiPrete's corner" in the DiPrete ruling.  The RI Supreme Court is fully aware that:

  • prosecutors routinely overcharge people and the courts routinely overlook this abuse and
  • the poor are at a disadvantage in our courts and
  • there is enormous pressure on the accused from every side to plea bargain and
  • few have adequate financial resources to defend themselves and
  • it can take years to alter legal precedent.

Knowing the above and still allowing precedent to be set allowing the Attorney General's egregious abuse of prosecutorial discretion and prosecutorial misconduct to go unsanctioned in the DiPrete case shows a dangerous insensitivity regarding civil rights and fair, impartial due process.

Complaint 4: Irregardless of whether criticism is valid or warranted, see what happens when someone criticizes RI Supreme Court Justices.    Also see the RI Supreme Court's avoidance of issues in the Danny Brown update.

Compaint 5: The RI Supreme Court refused to ban legislators from state boards.  They stated,

"Rhode Island's history is that of a quintessential system of parliamentary supremacy.  ...the Rhode Island legislative branch bears a stronger resemblance to the British parliament than it does to the US Congress.  It is not the function of this court to determine whether the United States federal system is preferable to that of legislative supremacy." 

Matthew Harrington of Roger Williams School of Law stated, "That has to be unique in American jurisprudence where a state Supreme Court has declared that we have a parliamentary system in force."  In a classic statement of legal doublespeak the court stated, "Only the people of Rhode Island may change the structure of their government."  [referring to a Constitutional Convention]   Sounds right, doesn't it?  Well, guess who decides whether citizen delegates will be permitted to convene in a Constitutional Convention?  THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY.  This opinion is devoid of the philosophical and historical context necessary to correctly decide the case, context that dissenting Judge Flanders discusses.

Complaint 6:  [Note: this ruling is pending] The RI Supreme Court upholds a ruling which bans pro se litigant Gladys Cok from self representation, demands she pay fines and hire attorneys prior to being able to represent herself  again and orders cases dismissed with prejudice if lawyers aren't hired irregardless of the injustice that results or whether the litigant is able to afford representation.  The RI Supreme Court knowingly sanctions the lower courts practice of not giving initial fair, factually based, objective hearings thereby deliberately throwing stumbling blocks in a litigants path.  When a litigant finally makes an error, the court uses that error to get rid of them citing the "harshness of the law" as they did with Citizen Cok.   Another example of this is the Garganta Cases.

Complaint 7: The RI Supreme Court shamelessly helps cover up wrong doing in the RI Traffic Court by denying Operation Clean Government's appeal to review the Commission on Judicial Tenure and Discipline's decision regarding said court.  See the traffic court page or the OCG Website for a more complete story.

Complaint 8: The RI Supreme Court, to their credit, overturnes a conviction but refuses to make clear case law on the ineffective assistance of counsel.  See Heath Update.

Complaint 9: Even in the rare case of the Commission on Judicial Tenure and Discipline finding wrongdoing, this Supreme Court backpedals and goes against most of the commission's findings in the case of Chief Judge Robert F. Arrigan.

Complaint 10: Read Judge Flanders  dissenting opinion regarding the Supreme Court's blocking of out of state attorney Small who was hired to help expose misconduct in the Rhode Island ethics commission.  Also read how the RI Supreme Court interfered with the hearing of ethics complaints.

Complaint 11:   In an unsigned decision and after investigations of local government got too close for comfort, the RI Supreme Court rules out-of-state lawyers MUST get its permission to practice before government agencies, boards and commissions, in addition to appearing before a court.  Previously, lawyers had appeared before boards and even worked for commissions without court approval.   The ruling made clear that state prosecutors must prosecute "unauthorized legal work" or stop it and lawyers who don't get permission won't get paid. 

Justice Flanders partially dissented [read first dissent on these issues] arguing that state law allows out-of-state lawyers to temporarily work in Rhode Island and bars legal payments to non-lawyers, not to out-of-state lawyers lacking court permission.  Flanders urged the court to adopt procedures if it wants to grant permission for every out-of-state lawyer desiring to work in Rhode Island, rather than taking up each request on a case-by-case basis.  Otherwise, Flanders wrote, not all out-of-state lawyers will know that they must get court permission nor will any understand when they must make a request and what standards the court will apply in ruling on a request.  "We are creating a trap for the unwary and engendering expensive and unnecessary collateral litigation concerning the validity of any actions taken in this state by nonresident attorneys and their clients."

So "creative interpretations" of law to make the law say whatever the system wants continues and the legal traps and complicating litigation set by the above ruling is irrelevant compared to protecting the status quo and the power structure in Rhode Island.

Complaint 12: Limiting public access to government records, the RI Supreme Court barred the City of Newport from releasing the personnel file of a police officer who had resigned after being accused of sexual assault.

Complaint 13: FACT:  there is no constitutional provision and no statute that grants judges judicial immunity.  Rather is is they, the judges, who have granted such immunity to themselves.  Read how the Rhode Island Supreme Court grants absolute judicial immunity even for known criminal behavior in the matter of Judge Almeida.

Complaint 14: A RI state Supreme Court ruling apparently frees public officials who are lawyers from state ethics rules -- and allows the Ethics Commission to drop a case against John Harwood.

Complaint 15: The RI Supreme Court protects THE SYSTEM even when it knows there is a problem.   Read the Clarence Spivey complaint.

Complaint 16: The RI Supreme Court was absolutely sure Jeffrey Scott Hornoff was guilty...until the real killer confessed.

Complaint 17:  Robert G. Flanders Jr. says the state's chief justice should have declined to serve on a military review panel.  By joining a military review panel, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Frank J. Williams put his colleagues in a "no-win situation" that jeopardized the high court's reputation, former Supreme Court Justice Robert G. Flanders Jr. said yesterday. On Monday, the Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit that claimed Williams forfeited the chief justice's job when he joined the military review panel that was set up to hear appeals from suspected terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Flanders, who resigned from the high court last year, said he disagreed with the ruling's key points. He argued that Providence lawyer Keven A. McKenna does have legal standing to pursue the matter, and he said state judges should not be considered exempt from a section of the Rhode Island Constitution that bars dual office-holding. Flanders said a challenge based on the state Constitution was inevitable "and the ultimate arbiter would have to be his colleagues on the Supreme Court." "So he should have declined the opportunity because ultimately he was forcing his colleagues to rule on the question," Flanders said. "Why put your colleagues and your court in a no-win situation?"

If the four associate justices had ruled in McKenna's favor, they would have ousted their chief justice, Flanders said. "And if they rule the other way, they risk being perceived as protectionist," he said. "It risked the perception that all they are doing is protecting themselves and carving out an exception to the dual office-holding ban."

Flanders was one of five finalists for chief justice in 2001, but Gov. Lincoln C. Almond chose Williams. Flanders became known for his frequent dissents on the high court, and said he would have dissented in Monday's ruling.

In Monday's ruling, the Supreme Court said McKenna lacked legal standing and that only the attorney general may challenge an official's right to hold office on behalf of the public. Flanders said there ought to be a way to challenge whether a Supreme Court justice has forfeited his office other than through the attorney general's office, which prosecutes cases before the Supreme Court. "The attorney general has a conflict of interest of his own which might prevent him from wanting to raise the question," Flanders said. "In a situation where the attorney general is representing the chief justice, I don't see how you can say he's the only person who can bring the lawsuit, especially when the Constitution places no restriction on who can raise the question." Article 3, Section 6 of the state Constitution says "if any general officer, senator, representative, or judge shall, after election and engagement, accept any appointment under any other government, the office under this shall be immediately vacated."

But the Supreme Court's majority said that ban does not apply to Williams because judges are now "appointed" rather than "elected." That change took place in 1994, the majority said, when another section of the Constitution was amended to create a merit-selection process for state judges. Flanders said: "The general rule is that repeals by implication are disfavored. The notion that when the legislature changed the way of selecting judges it intended to change the dual office-holding ban is, in my judgment, a real stretch."

Complaint 18:  When responding to the fact innocent people are being locked up due to Rhode Island's archaic parole system practices the court said a revocation hearing “does not call for the ‘full panoply of rights’ normally guaranteed defendants in criminal proceedings” and that “the state need not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant has violated his [or her] probation.”  Caught.net Note:  In violation hearings, there are no jury trials, no reasonable doubt and in some instances, hearsay is allowed.  See Rhode Island Parole Practices

Complaint 19:  In a case involving former Senate President William V. Irons, the court said the "speech-in-debate" clause in the Rhode Island Constitution gives legislators immunity from prosecution by the Ethics Commission for "core legislative functions" such as voting and speaking. The Rhode Island Supreme Court effectively removed Rhode Island lawmakers from Ethics Commission scrutiny.  See Ethics Commission page.

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